Adopting a healthy lifestyle at the age of 40 could add five more years to life, a recent study has revealed. Additionally, this lifestyle can counteract the impact of genes that shorten life spans by over 60%.

Since healthy living is associated with longevity, researchers explored its effects on individuals genetically inclined toward early mortality. The results of the study were published in BMJ Journals.

The researchers studied 353,742 people from the UK Biobank over an average period of 13 years. They assessed the participants' genetic risk of early death using a polygenic risk score, categorizing them into short, intermediate, or long lifespans. Lifestyle quality was gauged using six factors: smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity, body composition, sleep duration, and dietary habits. During the follow-up period, 24,239 participants died.

Participants with a high genetic risk of shorter lifespans had a 21% higher chance of early death compared to those with low genetic risk, regardless of lifestyle. However, regardless of genetic risks, individuals experienced a 78% higher probability of premature mortality if they led an unhealthy lifestyle.

The results show that genetic disposition and lifestyle choices collectively influence lifespan, showcasing an additive impact. Participants who have both a genetic predisposition for a shorter lifespan and an unhealthy lifestyle will face double the risk of premature death compared to those without genetic risk factors but maintain healthier lifestyles.

The study also suggests that people with a strong genetic risk of shorter lifespans could add almost 5.5 years to their lives if they adopt a healthy lifestyle at 40.

The ideal combination of lifestyle habits includes not smoking, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep every night, and following a healthy diet. Since habits often become fixed by middle age, researchers recommend making lifestyle changes early in life to counteract the effects of genetic predispositions toward shorter lifespans.

"This study elucidates the pivotal role of a healthy lifestyle in mitigating the impact of genetic factors on lifespan reduction. Public health policies for improving healthy lifestyles would serve as potent complements to conventional healthcare and mitigate the influence of genetic factors on human lifespan," the researchers wrote.